18 Mar 2405 CE
We begin with the crew at Zernebog Radical and the headquarters of Lothrain Free Company. All have been employed by Hiro Lothrain for at least ten weeks and have earned his trust; as a result, he asks that they handle a delicate issue for him. The crew of the LFC-101, “Rockhound” is long overdue – they went to Basildon under Pilot Roberts, but Hiro has just received notice from the PKF that his body has turned up on the moon. The ship itself is missing and there is no word on the other three crewmembers. Hiro wants them to take a people-mover to Basildon and find out what happened, rescue the rest of the crew (if possible) and retrieve the Rockhound (again, if possible.)
At .3 thrust – those people-movers are sloooow – it takes a week to get to Basildon. Prior to departure, Rostya is delayed by the TSA equivalent and misses his flight. He’ll follow on the next one.
The trip is uneventful and, upon arrival, the crew secure their belongings is security lockers – Basildon is Law Level 9, after all – and in-process. On all of the monitors, local media are ecstatic about the impending crash of a massive Hercules 8000 class freighter belonging to Akerut Lines upon distant Lubyanka; it won’t hit any population centers, but everyone is glued to the vid to watch it go down.
From the concourse, the crew proceed to the colony PKF office where they bludgeon through standard bureaucracy and start their investigation. Being an expert at this sort of thing, Baefre notes a crumpled stub in Roberts’ belongings that hints at him having gone to Nyx itself which wasn’t on the itinerary. He suspects that Roberts & Co. had a side-job to take care of, which Hiro doesn’t mind his people doing as long as their primary jobs come first. From the PKF officer, they further learn that colony police-arbiters discovered the body, identified Roberts as an off-worlder, and promptly punted to the Peacekeepers for further investigation or processing; this is standard practice which satisfies the locals but infuriates the PKF because they don’t have the personnel or mandate to handle a proper investigation. Ephraim arranges for an autopsy, but that will take some time, so they split up to cover additional ground more quickly.
Anya and Ilik head back to the starport, intent on tracking the comings and goings of the Rockhound; thanks to Ilik’s discreet application of telempathy, Anya finds a receptive audience with the bored DSV officials and confirms that yes, the LFC-101 did depart for Nyx, but only Roberts returned via a smaller shuttle.
At the same time, Baefre and Ephraim hit the precinct of the arresting officers and learn a little bit more: Roberts was in a very bad part of the dome and was the victim of a mugging-murder. From the vid-captures of the area, it seems obvious that he was at least slightly intoxicated and a little worse for the wear when he was shanked from behind by a couple of unknown men (wearing baffles that digitally confuse the cameras.)
The two groups reunite to share their info, then head toward the crime scene. Along the way, they observe a pair of prostitutes square off and duel with blades; only one of them walks away. This is definitely a tough part of town.
Once at the scene, Baefre and Ilik uses their knowledge of the streets to identify the “street-captain” (aka, the thug who runs this particular neighborhood) and Ilik tries to talk the man into helping. Unfortunately, something about the group bothers the street-captain who isn’t having any of it and orders them to get the hell off his street. As they’re turning away, though, Baefre hears the man mutter something disparagingly about Taareh and PKF in general, and turns back, demanding to know what was said. Irritated, the street-captain issues an order to one of his armed lackeys.
“Shoot this sonuvabitch.”
- We spent an hour or so sorting out equipment for the characters. This was to be expected.
- WxMAN was out on vacation, so the need for his character to be delayed by the TSA equivalent. He’ll be showing up next week.
- I declared the people-mover was probably an Exeter-class but in retrospect, it should have been a Xuan Wu.
- The entire investigation was intended to go by more quickly, but we’re still learning the system – this was the first actual bit of gameplay we’ve had – so there’s a learning curve. Plus, everyone was involved with the investigation and it made sense to let the players take me where they wanted.
- The Shrike is straight up ripped off from Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos. No idea what I’m going to do with it; I just threw it in as flavor with an eye toward it being spacer lore. I even jokingly referenced the “Cult of the Shrike.”
- I used the Traveller Emulator to spin up Mr. Roberts and man, the dice were not kind to him. He had no characteristics above 9 and most were below 6; INT and SOC were both 4, so I declared that none of the PCs really got along with him. One of the random elements that showed up on the emulator was that he had been in a monastery so I said “a type of monastery” and mentioned that he’d frequently chatted with Rostya (who spent a career as a Truther (from Traveller Companion). This was intended as a one-off joke, but one of the players asked if Roberts had perhaps been a member of the Cult of the Shrike … so I went with it.
- I enjoyed explaining how screwed up the culture of the Twelve Families was and even decided on the fly that each of the major colonies have “dueling arenas” so disputes can be settled properly.
- Everyone was in the process of leaving the “street captain” – a phrase coined by CommJunkee that I promptly stole and “canonized” for the game – when MagMan had his character react to my street captain muttering crossly about the Taareh. This led to the cliffhanger which will be resolved at the beginning of next session, one way or the other.